Landon Poppa, Mound City.jpg

(Mound City) -- The two-time defending state champion and No. 1 ranked Mound City has handled their business through the first three weeks of the 2020 season.

The Panthers (3-0) routed Platte Valley, Stewartsville and Albany by a combined 142 to 18. The most recent win over Albany was a 40-18 triumph and also marked the first points they’ve surrendered this season.

“Albany is a great football team,” Mound City’s Taylor Standerford told KMA Sports. “They came in here and did some stuff really well. We got off to a real quick start and plateaued there at the end of the first quarter. It was good to see our guys at halftime kind of rebound and come out in the third quarter to go on a seven-minute drive.”

Mound City had little trouble the rest of the game and are now prepared for a meeting with a familiar opponent in Southwest Livingston. This is the third matchup between the two teams in the last 14 games.

Southwest Livingston won the first contest during the 2019 regular season, handing Coach Standerford his first loss as Mound City head coach. However, the Panthers returned the favor in an 82-46 state championship-clinching victory.

“They’re bringing most of their team back,” Standerford noted. “They’ve got (Chase Neptune) out on the edge and is a huge threat for them. We’ve got to do our job to limit the things that they do.”

Mound City has plenty of weapons themselves, including senior Landon Poppa, who has been a key piece for them during their last two state championship runs. Poppa has 168 yards rushing, 98 receiving and six offensive touchdowns. He’s also key on defense, where he’s totaled 27 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

“The guys know what to expect from him,” Standerford said. “They know he’s going to give it his all, and they’re going to do the same thing for him. He’s been a great leader for us, and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

The third-ranked Wildcats have also opened the season in impressive fashion, rolling to wins over East Atchison (54-30), South Holt/Nodaway-Holt (76-38) and DeKalb (70-22). Quarterback Weston Hughes has 956 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, including 531 yards and eight scores to receiver Chase Neptune.

“Neptune does a great job, but they have some other guys,” Standerford said. “They’re smaller kids, but they get after it up there. They run good routes, can catch the ball over the top and that seems to be what they want to do.

“They try to get Neptune the ball a lot, and then get you to fall asleep on the other two on the outside. Then they hit you over the top. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our assignments every single play.”

Devin Albertson will have reports from Ludlow on Friday evening, as No. 1 meets No. 3 in a rematch of last year’s state championship. Listen to AM 960 and FM 99.1 for all of our KMAland football coverage from 6:20 to midnight.

Listen to the complete interview with Coach Standerford linked below.

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